Natsuki Nakamura: Agaritida

It’s been a long time coming but Agaritida is the first solo release from Okinawa’s Natsuki Nakamura who has been well-known on the island music scene for some time.

Nakamura learned traditional singing and sanshin with the Noborikawa-ryu but is equally at home with contemporary styles. She has been a vocalist with techno units Ryukyudisko and Ryukyu Underground, and in 2007 joined Soul Flower Mononoke Summit for their Henoko Peace Festa to campaign against the proposed new US base – a protest that continues to this day.

Agaritida has seven tracks and for these she is joined by a handful of musicians. For the opener ‘Oka no Ipponmatsu’ her vocal and sanshin is accompanied by acoustic guitar played by Naoto from the rock band Orange Range. Elsewhere there is some saxophone, flute, and piano, while Kanako Hatoma provides shimadaiko on a couple of tracks.

Everything is sung, played, and recorded competently and straightforwardly. While there can be no complaints about Nakamura’s performance, it’s nevertheless a bit surprising that – given her interest in contemporary music – she didn’t take a few more risks. The powerful traditional song ‘Kunjan Sabakui’, for example, calls out for a stronger, more adventurous approach but the version here is a bit lacklustre.

On ‘Naritai Bushi’ she duets with what sounds like an elderly man but is in fact the ubiquitous Hajime Nakasone sounding more than ever as if he’s doing an impersonation of Seijin Noborikawa. The pair duet again on ‘Koina Yunta~Asadoya Yunta’ unusually combining the two songs. The final track ‘Mikazuki’ has a nice blend of sanshin, sax, and piano and is the kind of song that Chihiro Kamiya does so well.

It’s good to know that Natsuki Nakamura is recording and playing again as she is someone it’s always a pleasure to see and hear and she performs with all the ease you would expect. It’s just a shame that it all sounds a tiny bit routine when compared to some of the exciting recordings by great Okinawan singers of the past and present. 

Agaritida is released on CD by Natsukiya Records and is out now.

Explore posts in the same categories: Okinawan Albums

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